Christmas On The Radio

I’ve spent much of my  life on the radio, playing music.  Every year when the Christmas songs started, the radio station staff revolted.  Here’s a scene from a typical radio programming meeting, where on-air people wrestled with the Program Director (in the days before a computer picked the music – and before every city had a radio station that plays continuous holiday music starting at Thanksgiving.) 

PD:  So guys – and Anita – you’ll notice on your playlist that we’re rotating one Christmas song each hour starting…

ME: …Couldn’t we play more than one per hour?

EVERYONE ELSE:  No!

PD:  And then by week three of the season, we’ll play four an hour.

ME:  Couldn’t we play more than that?

EVERYONE ELSE:  Shut up!

ME:  Could I have more Christmas music on my show?

ON-AIR PERSON:  I’ll be calling in sick.

ANOTHER ON-AIR PERSON:  You can’t call in sick, because I’m scheduling all my dental work now.  I’ll be gone for a month.

The foregoing is only slightly exaggerated.  I haven’t met many radio people who like Christmas music as much as I do.  For me, it can’t start too soon. Give me a couple of songs and three lights that twinkle and I’m happy.

After years of being on the air,  I had the opportunity to host a nationally syndicated show.  Something Special aired on stations around the U.S.  I was also writer and producer for this weekly four-hour radio magazine and we began making our Christmas show while the weather said it was still summer. 

Show prep (a rather unimaginative term that means exactly what it sounds like) included knowing a lot about the music we’d be playing.  No problem here.  I love Christmas music and in addition to the music sent over by the record companies, I also have a big personal collection.  We knew many of the artists who performed the music and had been pre-recording their holiday greetings all year when they were in our studio.

John Schneider was the guest co-host for this Christmas extravaganza.  He’d become a friend through my daily radio show in Los Angeles. Generally the new show featured a celebrity guest for only the first hour of each week, but at Christmas John would be with us for all four hours. 

John arrived with one of his ever-present dogs – maybe it was Smudge or, God rest her soul, Gracie.  Cathleen (my daughter worked on the show) baked Christmas cookies and brought in a small Christmas tree. John contributed warm apple fritters he picked up at that place he knew in Burbank.  We took our positions at the microphones.  

We sailed right along.  I don’t remember any re-takes.  It’s one of my favorite radio shows ever.  I play it again every year by the light of my plug-in-desktop tree with the twinkle lights. Sometimes I play it in the middle of summer, or whenever in the words of a favorite song, I “need a little Christmas.”    

Anita Garner 2008

4 thoughts on “Christmas On The Radio”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I, too, was one of those rock radio nerds who wanted as much Christmas music as I could play. (Although, I admit I could have done without Jingle Bells by the Singing Dogs, which I was forced to play every hour.)

    I didn’t care for the modern updates of Christmas classics with a rock or R&B treatment, either. Love country music — not so much countrification of Silent Night. Traditional means traditional, as far as I’m concerned.

    “We Need a Little Christmas” is a bonafide Christmas song even though it’s from the musical theatre play, “Mame,” which isn’t about Christmas at all. And there is one song we all think of as a Christmas song, “Sleigh Ride,” which makes no direct or even implied reference to Christmas!

    My all time favorite is “The Christmas Waltz” and the entire album from which it came by the Carpenters.

    Gee…maybe I should write my own blog, huh? 🙂

    Thanks for the Christmas spirit!

  2. Lovely, Anita. Just lovely.

    When I started out on air in Syracuse, New York I was hired to be the hard-drivin’ rock ‘n’ roll night jock. Christmastime was a challenge because I’d put on some classic and go all mushy. But I couldn’t help it. No time of year holds more (or better) memories for me than Christmas.

    And I’m with Dave…the Carpenters Christmas album is my fave.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Couple o’ questions though: Are you a big bulb gal, or a mini bulb gal? Whites or coloreds? Steady glow or blinking? (These should be eHarmony must-ask questions, BTW) Me? Mini, colored, steady…

  3. Hi Todd,

    I’m mini-bulbs, white, and this year am experimenting with holding steady instead of blinking. A major decision I thought about long and hard.

  4. For the past several years, a small area near the front of my house displays a nifty 3 foot St. Nick cut-out; waving his big ol’ mitted hand high over his head while the small sign below him grins … “Happy Holidays.” Then over his left shoulder, and just above his head, is a wonderful 18 inch twinkling-multi-pointed star light that looks a whole lot like the one you see in those classic depictions of the night Mary’s Son was born. It’s the only light in my yard.

    A few of my neighbors often wonder why I don’t put out a few more lights. Well, I used to … but the year I put ol’ St. Nick under that little front yard tree with the single Star — it occurred to me that, for as long as those old bulbs continue to burn, — my yard’s little display is kind of my way of saying : “I believe in Some Kind of Higher Power; The Baby Jesus and … Santa Claus.”

    Gonna keep doing it for as long as it’s still legal to make spiritual statements like that in public. And for “how long?” Well, as Brian Wilson once sang — “God Only Knows.”

    For now … A Very Merry Christmas and A Totally Boss New Year from Morg. : – )

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